Ethiopia postpones elections over COVID-19

Ethiopia has postponed its parliamentary election scheduled for August due to the coronavirus outbreak, the electoral board said on Tuesday.

The decision is supported by some key opposition parties in the horn of the African nation.

“Due to the pandemic we were forced to suspend our activities,” said an Amharic-language statement from the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia. The board will announce a new timeline once the pandemic has subsided, it said.

The August vote had been regarded as an important test of the reformist agenda of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

PM Abiy had promised to hold free and fair elections in August and has been positioning himself as a unity candidate whose reforms could replace state repression as the glue to hold together Ethiopia’s often fractious federal regions.

Previous elections in Ethiopia, a parliamentary democracy, have been marred by allegations of rigging and intimidation of the opposition.

Addis Ababa has 25 confirmed cases of coronavirus and the government has closed schools and restricted gatherings to curb the spread of the highly infectious illness.

Ethiopia is Africa’s second-most populous nation with 105 million citizens.

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